Traditionally, the sign of a Cheshire cheese swinging in front of a pub was used to show it offered a warm welcome, and that a roaring fire, hearty meal and tankard of ale awaited within. This is certainly true of the Cheshire Cheese which lies nestled in the village of Hope in the Peak District. This is the sort of cosy pub you long to stumble across after an invigorating day in the hills.
Located in the heart of the Peaks along an old salt carrying route, this rustic inn dates back to 1632 and was once two separate cottages, before they were joined and became The Cheshire Cheese. The original doorway is still used as the main entrance today, and the pub is crammed with interesting relics and photographs of the days when salt traders would rest here overnight. Incredibly, payment for lodging at the inn could once be made in cheese, and old cheese hooks used to hang up the pub’s bounty are still displayed in the dining room.
These days The Cheshire Cheese provides homely and comfortable accommodation in four cosy bedrooms, plus wholesome pub meals and local ales on tap. The inn is a favourite with hikers as its location makes the perfect base for walks, with the larger, busier village of Castleton nearby and the tranquil waters of Ladybower reservoir and the peaks of Mam Tor and Kinder Scout a few miles away. The huge cooked breakfasts also set ramblers up for a day on the hills, with eggs and bacon sourced from local farm shop Watson’s.
With spectacular views of the Hope Valley, the circular Great Ridge walk along the impressive flanks of Mam Tor is one of the most popular routes in the area, with good reason.
Top of Losehill
Setting out from The Cheshire Cheese, head along Edale Road until you see a footpath sign on your left for Losehill. You can either take the first stile, which offers a slightly shorter route, or carry on along the road and past the Losehill House Hotel. Continue upwards along the tree-lined footpath.
Climb Back Tor
The next section of the route climbs up to the top of Back Tor, which offers wonderful, panoramic views of the Derbyshire countryside. From here it is a short but steep descent down the path towards Hollins Cross, na good opportunity for a breather and some great photos of the landscape below.
Conquer the Shivering Mountain
Continue along the Great Ridge towards one of Castleton’s most famous landmarks, the hulking mass of Mam Tor. The hill is nicknamed the ‘Shivering Mountain’ after a number of landslips sent loose bands of shale and gritstone sliding down its sides. Follow the stone surfaced footpath to the top of the Tor for neverending views of the Edale Valley and across to Kinder Scout and the Derwent Moors.
Across the Moorland
Descend Mam Tor and continue along the Rowter Bridleway, across the moorland and towards Windy Knoll. Here, you can choose to shorten your route and head down Winnats Pass, a cleft in the land that was formed after a cave system collapsed, or continue further along
the Limestone Way.
Capture the castle
The dramatic ruins of Perevil Castle, an 11th-century fortification run by English Heritage, loom above the village of Castleton. Mentioned in the Doomsday survey, the castle is one of England’s earliest Norman fortresses
and was built by Henry II in 1176.
Time for cream tea
Castleton is not short of charming tearooms and cafes for weary walkers. Head to the well-named Ramblers Rest for coffee and a slab of cake or to the Three Roofs Café for a traditional Derbyshire cream tea. From here, you can either take the main Castleton road back to Hope or follow a footpath past the Ramblers Rest to the Cheshire Cheese.
The Cheshire Cheese Inn
Double bedrooms from £75. Main meals from £11. Edale Road, Hope, Derbyshire S33 6ZF. 01433 620381; www.thecheshirecheeseinn.co.uk
This article originally featured in the December issue of BBC Countryfile Magazine
Image credit: Carys Matthews & Jon Tilley